I’ve been wanting to give Smögen a try for a long time. Now that moment is finally here with a review of the Smögen 100 Proof Batch 2.
Last fall I worked my way through The Nordic Casks, a range by independent bottler Berry Bros & Rudd that highlights different Nordic distilleries. I truly loved the entire series, but was disappointed to see Smögen, a small producer from Sweden, wasn’t included. I was hoping to finally be able to cross them off my bucket list, but I had to wait a little longer.
Smögen is a modest craft distillery that has made waves in the whisky community ever since it produced its first spirit in 2010. By all accounts, founder and head distiller Pär Caldenby is fanatic about his production process. He imports heavily peated malt from Scotland (the Smögen 100 Proof Batch 2 is made from Optic barley) and aims to produce an Islay style single malt. The distillery has worms tubs, but those were only installed in 2018, which means they weren’t used for the Smögen 100 Proof Batch 2, which is at least 6 years old.
I bought a bottle of the Smögen 100 Proof Batch 2 a little while ago, for which I mostly blame Mark Newton. He wrote a glowing review on Malt (including an awesome interview with Pär Caldenby) which made me curious enough to pull the trigger. However, as I buy way more than I actually drink (an affliction many of us whisky enthusiasts suffer from), I didn’t immediately open it. Actually, it is still sitting in my cellar.
But I managed to source a sample. So now while I wasn’t able to try it before I bought it, I can at least try it before I open it. It’s a strategy I use a lot these days. Buy a bottle first, then find someone willing to sell or share a sample to verify whether I made a good purchase. If not, I’ll trade it for another bottle down the line.
In many cases that is the only way to get your hands on whisky that’s at least moderately interesting, because anything that I’m potentially interested in, will usually sell out before I’ve had the chance to taste. That’s not actually the case with the Smögen 100 Proof Batch 2; there are many shops in Germany especially that still carry it. But before you frantically start googling for shop links, first allow me to share my thoughts on the Smögen 100 Proof Batch 2.
Smögen 100 Proof Batch 2 (57.1%, OB, 2021)
Nose: First impression is not unlike a Laphroaig 10 Years Cask Strength, yet a little more civilized and sherried. Earthy peat smoke with smoked bacon, but also blackcurrants, figs, raisins, a drop of iodine, as well as a nice, coastal breeze and dried tobacco leaves. Becomes more farmy with time. Taste: Intense, smoky, sweet and salty. Touches of leather, figs and raisins, but also dry and plenty of wood spices. Some peanut skins, bacon, black pepper and charcoal, but also coffee grounds. Whisper of burlap too. Finish: Bonfire, cracked black pepper corns and charred meat, as well as some sandalwood. Long.
Highly entertaining, the Smögen 100 Proof Batch 2 easily lives up to my expectations. Sure, it maybe feels a bit pressure cooked, but that doesn't really take away anything from the marvelous tasting experience. Thanks for sharing, Herbert!